When it comes to writing a good resume, one of the first steps is to choose the most effective format for selling you. Before applying for a position you should gauge the position requirements, assess your matching skill sets and then decide which resume format will be most successful in conveying your message to the recruiter.

Job seekers typically utilize the most familiar format when writing their resume; the reverse chronological resume. It lists your most recent positions first, allows room to highlight related skills and achievements, and is easy for the reader to follow. Yet, many individuals (recruiters included) find this format overused and a bit overrated. It is a ‘safe’ format that may run you the risk of being overlooked. In a sea of resumes can you be sure your reverse chronological resume will stand out?

On the other end of the spectrum is the functional resume, which is very different from the reverse chronological format. It groups together your related skill sets and minimizes the specifics of each past position held. The functional format works well for individuals with employment gaps, those re-entering the workforce, or for those making a career change.

However, the functional format is a bit controversial and some recruiters claim to severely dislike it. Some recruiters believe that a candidate is trying to hide something with this format, although not everyone agrees. Some recruiters truly appreciate seeing a clear match between job seekers’ skill sets and their job requirements; which this format affords. Overall, if you feel you can make a better sale of your related skills and abilities in a functional format, you should consider it.

Finally, there is the combined resume format. It is technically the best of both worlds; with the greatest flexibility in how a candidate can display their related skill sets and career history. There is no direct order to how information should be displayed, and if written appropriately it can allow for the greatest impact. The combined resume format is diverse enough to set a candidate apart, but direct enough to get the required sale across.

Keep in mind that a resume format should be carefully chosen for your unique situation, and that you may require different resume formats for different job applications.

Resume Formats

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